Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Damp treasure

Glenda lives less than a mile from my would-be new house. Past Liam’s new school: Bayou View Elementary. It probably flooded, but had few trees on it. Looks like the only ones which hit the building landed on or near Liam’s classroom. I think I’ll spare him that bit of information. He’ll worry too much. Like his mother.

Weaving through the path of felled trees, I find Glenda’s cul de sac. She is the only one who left. Everyone else stayed. “We survived Camille.”

Katrina flooded the entire block. Here’s the secret to telling: look for the heaping pile of soaked carpet in the front yard and then look for the water line on the walls. When the flood begins to recede, it leaves a very visible mark at its highest point. By the looks of it, there was at least three feet of water covering Tally Ho Circle.

David & Ricky meet me at their door. (They are her neighbors and I have to borrow their key to Glenda’s house.) But they’re hugging me before I can say anything. Three extremely sweaty men in a post-apocalyptic embrace.

I picked the wrong week to move.

Their house was filled with antiques and theatre collectables. David had an odd lust for the New York World’s Fair. His collection spans several display cabinets. They’re all off the ground now, and most of the available table space is littered with objects he has been collecting for decades. His hardwoods are ruined. His CD collection is drying in the sun. Fans are blowing across his tiled floor.

Ricky goes back to wiping water off a jar of pickles he salvaged from the fridge. David sorts his CDs and tells me Glenda’s place is going to be just as bad. Reminds me not to drink the water. And suggests a tetanus shot in my near future.

Glenda’s place is worse. Water line up to my knees. A quarter inch of nasty, stank funk coats the floor. Mixed with cat litter. Sofas and chairs rest where the receding water set them. The dining room table floated counter-clockwise. Magazines fattened by the bayou cling to the baseboards. The tub has become a swamp. I can’t see the bottom of it and I’m sure as hell not going to reach in there and check the drain. The carpets slurp with each step. Tybalt sitting on Cindy’s old bed, his tail twitching lazily. No sign of Kramer. The children’s clothes floated into the hallway. Two of Cindy’s purses full of water and muck. Our wedding pictures under water for hours, still wet as I cradle them to my chest. They’re cool against my skin. Cindy was so beautiful, angelic and smiling. Her long neck and thin wrists as we cut the cake.

Liam’s baseball glove: flooded. Cindy will never let him touch it again. One of Meg’s teddy bears, drowned. Cindy will never let her hold it again. And the Aerosmith poster from the 70s that I bought her one Christmas: buckled and warped as it dried.

That’s all I can take. I put the album onto a dry patch of bed. Maybe Cindy can save what Katrina ruined.

I’ll leave a note that I was here, and come back tomorrow to start Glenda’s cleanup. Or tonight. If find the bodies of my parents.
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